Governor Steve Beshear today announced a new enforcement measure aimed at saving lives on Kentucky highways.
At the Governor's direction, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet soon will assess "penalty points" on the operator's licenses of drivers who are cited and convicted of violating Kentucky's law against texting while driving.
A driver will incur three points for each no-texting violation. The cabinet can suspend the licenses of drivers who incur a specified number of points within a two-year period -- 12 points for drivers 18 and older, seven points for drivers under 18.
Gov. Beshear announced the new enforcement measure at the 2013 Kentucky Life Savers Conference, an annual gathering of transportation leaders and emergency responders from across the Commonwealth.
"Highway safety has been a major emphasis of our administration," Gov. Beshear said. "We have thousands of dedicated professionals -- in highway engineering, law enforcement and emergency medical services -- who work every day toward a goal of zero deaths on Kentucky's streets and highways.
"Part of the challenge of highway safety is to keep ahead of technology. The cell phone is symbolic of that challenge. While it has made our lives and jobs easier in many ways, there is no question that far too often it proves to be an irresistible distraction to drivers," Gov. Beshear said.
The "No Texting While Driving" law, enacted by the 2012 General Assembly, forbids anyone to send text messages while driving a motor vehicle. For drivers under 18, the law also forbids any use of a cell phone while driving.
To aid in enforcement of the law, Gov. Beshear's package of highway safety legislation submitted to the 2013 General Assembly included a bill -- House Bill 294 -- to impose penalty points for texting while driving. The bill was approved by the House Transportation Committee but never reached a vote in the full House before the General Assembly adjourned. Gov. Beshear then decided to have the Transportation Cabinet implement the penalty by administrative regulation. Once the regulation goes through legislative review and takes effect, the cabinet will begin assessing the penalty points.
Some 53,600 crashes in Kentucky in 2012 were attributed to driver distraction, a category that includes cell phone use.
"We have long recognized that cell phone use is a factor in a high number of highway crashes," said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock, who is the Governor's designated representative for highway safety. "I am convinced that the "No Texting While Driving' law will save lives."